Today, in the comments thread of an article on theDailyBlog, one poster was discussing whether George Orwell or Aldous Huxley had more accurately predicted the distopia we currently live in, I think Alan Moore pretty much nailed it with the original comic book version of ‘V for Vendetta’. Of course he had Orwell and Huxley for inspiration, but his combination of the panopticon surveillance, rewriting of language and history, and constant propaganda of 1984, with the social engineering, banal “feelies” (“reality” TV and internet porn), and technocracy of Brave New World, pretty much hits the nail on the head.

What I particularly like about V is that the masked anarchist anti-hero is the antithesis of that fascist ubermensch Superman. Where Superman uses massively centralized power to solve other people’s problems for them, leaving them just as powerless after being rescued as they were before, V attacks both the symbols and the enforcement apparatus of centralized power, and encourages people to rise up and find their own solutions to their own problems.

Some critics, particularly those who have only seen the watered down Wachowski film version, complain that V is not a nice guy (he tortures his friend etc). In the comic version it’s much clearer that V does these things because he’s not the good guy! Like the Bolsheviks, he’s the lesser of two evils, but the trauma of the experiments done on him, and what he witnessed, has nonetheless made him evil. Unlike the Bolsheviks, he has the self-awareness to commit hari kari, rather than becoming part of an oppressive Party machine himself.

The hero of V for Vendetta is actually Evey, which is made clear in the final scene of the comic, where she appears in V’s get-up, to inspire the people to decide for themselves what to do with the chance at freedom V has created in his revenge against his persecutors. The film version totally rewrites this final scene, putting everyone in the V get-up Anonymous style, which emphasizes V as a symbol of the oppressed everyman (or everywoman etc), but leaves Evey’s character looking weak, and ultimately pointless.

Filed June 26th, 2015 under Uncategorized
  1. Just occurred to me that our current situation is also quite well represented in a 2002 film ‘Equilibrium’; armed priest-cops, overwhelming censorship and propaganda, and compulsory psychiatric treatment for symptoms actually caused by a dysfunctional and alienating society. ‘Equilibrium’ also takes elements from ‘1984′ and ‘Brave New World’, but seems inspired mainly by Ray Bradbury’s book ‘Fareignheit 451′.

    Comment by Daniel Strypey Bruce on June 28, 2015 at 2:09 am

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